This Mexican arrachera recipe is made with dry rubbed and marinated skirt steak that’s been seared to perfection. Slice it up when it’s done and serve it in warm tortillas with your favorite taco toppings!
Are you ready to take taco Tuesday over the top? Look no further than arrachera, AKA skirt steak! This dry rubbed, marinated, and seared steak is easy to make and perfect for slicing and layering into tacos, fajitas, quesadillas, and more.
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What is arrachera?
The term “arrachera” refers to skirt steak, a long strip of incredibly flavorful meat taken from the belly of the cow right below the ribs. It’s typically seasoned with a citrus marinade before being seared over high heat and sliced thin. Each bite is crisp, lightly charred on the surface, and succulent in the middle.
- It’s flavor-packed and affordable. True to tradition, this recipe calls for budget-friendly skirt steak that’s soaked in a simple, yet vibrant Mexican-inspired marinade (like our barbacoa).
- Quick and easy. This recipe is as simple as seasoning and marinating the meat, then searing it in a hot pan. Similar to carne picada, the marinade needs time to soak into the meat, but searing takes less than 10 minutes!
- Elevated taco night. Just like carne asada or al pastor, arrachera is designed to be sliced into thin strips, then topped with your favorite taco toppings.
The beauty of arrachera is that you only need super simple ingredients to dress up the budget-friendly slab of beef! These are the ingredients you need:
- Skirt steak. This long, flat cut of beef isn’t the most tender steak but it’s one of the best for searing, slicing, and layering into tacos and other Mexican dishes. And just like sirloin and bavette, it’s a very affordable cut. Look for outside skirt steak when you’re shopping as it tends to be more tender and flavorful.
- Lime juice. Use freshly squeezed lime juice. The acidity helps tenderize the meat and brighten up the dimension of flavors in the marinade. Lemon juice also works in a pinch.
- Garlic. Minced fresh garlic cloves add a ton of flavor to the marinade.
- Mexican oregano. You can use regular fresh oregano if that’s all you can find, but Mexican oregano has a brighter, citrusy flavor that makes the marinade shine. You can read more about the difference between Mexican oregano and regular oregano in this article by Bon Appetit.
- Cumin. This gives the dry rub a hint of warmth.
- Olive oil. Used as the base of the marinade.
- Paprika. This is the base of the dry rub. You can use smoked paprika if you want deeper, smokier flavors.
- Chili pepper. It gives the dry rub just a hint of spice and heat.
- Salt and pepper. For flavor
- Fresh coriander. For garnish.
You can keep the dry rub simple by using a pre-mixed taco seasoning blend instead of individual dry spices.
How to make arrachera
I recommend removing the silver skin membrane from the skirt steak before searing. The butcher can do this for you or you can do it yourself by sliding a knife under the white membrane, then peeling it away from the meat. Follow these step-by-step instructions to learn how to make arrachera:
Step 1 – Tenderize the meat
Place the steak on a cutting board and cut it in half widthwise. Cover both pieces with a layer of plastic wrap and pound them down to an even thickness.
Step 2 – Apply the dry rub
Combine the oregano, paprika, salt, chili pepper, cumin, and black pepper in a small bowl. Rub the spice mix over both sides of each steak, then place the meat in a bowl or resealable bag.
Step 3 – Marinate the skirt steak
Add the olive oil, lime juice, and minced garlic cloves to the bowl/bag with the meat. Place it in the fridge while it marinates.
Step 4 – Sear, then slice
Heat a skillet over high heat. Once it’s hot, add the marinated steak and sear on both sides.
When it’s done, transfer it to a cutting board to rest before slicing into thin strips. Garnish with coriander leaves, lime juice, salt, and pepper, then enjoy!
- Pound down the thicker parts. Pounding the thick steaks to about a ½ inch thickness results in a quicker cooking time and even cooking.
- Don’t marinate for too long. Leave the steaks in the marinade for a minimum of 90 minutes or a maximum of 8 hours. Any longer, and the fibers will break down too much.
- Don’t undercook or overcook. For the best skirt steak, sear it over high heat to about medium rare (about 135°F). This should only take 2 to 3 minutes per side in a hot cast iron skillet.
- Slice against the grain. In other words, slice against the direction of the fibers to make them shorter. This leaves you with skirt steak that’s tender and easier to chew.
- Use a cast iron skillet. If you’ve made our cast iron steak before, you know how much more delicious it is when cooked on this magical cooking utensil.
What to serve with this dish
Arrachera is often served in warm tortillas with classic toppings, like diced onion, coriander leaves (cilantro), and fresh lime wedges. It’s also excellent with pico de gallo, sliced radishes, chimichurri sauce, salsa roja, salsa verde, and guacamole on top.
To store. Keep the leftovers in an airtight container or wrapped in aluminum foil in the fridge for up to 4 days.
To freeze. The cooked steak also freezes well in an airtight container for up to 2 months. Let it thaw overnight in the fridge before reheating.
To reheat. The best way to reheat leftover skirt steak without drying it out is in the oven at 250°F until the internal temperature reaches 110°F. Alternatively, you can reheat leftovers in a skillet over medium heat with a splash of water to keep the meat juicy.
Recommended tools to make this recipe
- Cast iron skillet. Nothing cooks a steak better than this kitchen gadget.
- Tongs. To flip the steaks without scarring the pan.
- Instant read thermometer. Even though I *know* when steaks are cooked, I still like to double check!
To cook arrachera on the grill, season and marinate the meat as instructed. Preheat the grill to 400°F and grill the steak for 2 to 3 minutes per side or until it’s cooked between medium rare and medium.
This recipe is made with a 3-pound skirt steak. Sliced and served in tacos with all of the fixings, there should be enough to serve 6 to 8 people.
The main difference between arrachera and carne asada is that arrachera is the term for “skirt steak” while carne asada refers to “grilled beef”. Both dishes are made with skirt steak that’s been marinated, grilled or seared, and sliced thinly.
Arrachera (Mexican Skirt Steak)
- Tenderize the meat by placing it on a cutting board, covered with plastic wrap, and pound it with a meat mallet evenly.
- Combine the rest of the dry ingredients and rub the meat with it. Pour the wet ingredients on top of the meat and let it marinate for at least 10 minutes or up to 90 minutes.
- Heat a cast iron skillet until sizzling hot and place the steak in it. Sear for 2-3 minutes per side.
- Rest the cooked steak on the cutting board for 10 minutes, before slicing it against the grain.
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